Malocclusion: What It Is and How to Treat It

Children's Dental Health
By: Spirit Dental
October 6, 2020

A young child smiling while holding flowers

Have you heard of the term “malocclusion,” but you aren’t sure what it is? Perhaps your dentist has diagnosed you or your child with this problem, and you want to learn more about it. To help you out, we’ve outlined what malocclusion is, and what you can do to treat it. 

What Is Malocclusion?

Malocclusion basically means your teeth aren’t aligned properly because of a problem with your bite, which is how the lower and upper teeth fit together when you close your mouth. Even though most people won’t have a bite that’s absolutely perfect, a normal bite will allow the upper front teeth to rest a little beyond the lower chompers, and the top molars will fit into the grooves of the lower molars. 

What’s the big deal if the teeth don’t line up right? Well, when your bite isn’t aligned correctly, your pearly whites can be affected, causing them to protrude or grow in crooked. In that case, you might not be satisfied with the way your smile looks. Beyond that, however, malocclusion might also result in tooth damage and tooth loss. And in severe cases, this type of misalignment might even make it hard to speak or chew. Now that’s serious!

There are different types of malocclusion:

  • Overbite – This is when the front upper teeth end up overlapping the lower teeth to an excessive degree when the mouth is closed.
  • Underbite – This is when the lower teeth and jaw protrude past the upper teeth when the mouth is closed.
  • Crossbite – This is when some of the upper teeth rest normally, while others rest inside the lower teeth when your mouth is closed.
  • Open bite – This is when the lower and upper teeth don’t touch when the mouth is closed. 

Causes of malocclusion include:

  • If you’ve been diagnosed with malocclusion, and there are other people in your family who have it as well, you might have inherited it.
  • If there is a problem with the size or shape of your jaw, your teeth may not grow in properly. For example, if your jaw is too small, your chompers might be crowded and crooked. 
  • If you’ve had dental work done, such as a filling or crown, but it doesn’t fit properly, you might develop malocclusion. 
  • If a child develops bad habits, such as sucking their thumb or using a pacifier for too long, the teeth might be pushed out of alignment.
  • Other causes include injuries to the jaw, birth defects like cleft lip and palate, impacted teeth, abnormally shaped teeth, or tumors in the jaw or mouth. 

What Are the Treatments for Malocclusion?

When malocclusion is minor, treatment to correct it might not be necessary. That’s good news! 

In cases when treatment is necessary, orthodontics, such as braces or Invisalign, may be recommended for both kids and adults. Before using braces or aligners, some teeth might need to be extracted, particularly when there’s a problem with overcrowded chompers. 

Children with malocclusion might also benefit from something known as growth modification. This involves using a device to make the jaw move into the correct position prior to using braces that will shift the teeth and help fix the bite. 

In severe cases, surgery might be needed to correct problems with the jaw. For example, a surgery might be used to make the jaw shorter or longer.  

Correcting Malocclusion Can Help You Get a Beautiful Smile!

Malocclusion can affect the look of your smile, so it can take a toll on your confidence. Thankfully, there are treatment options available that will help realign your jaw and teeth, so you don’t have to live with this condition. 

Worried about affording the treatments to fix malocclusion if you or one of your children has been diagnosed with it? Don’t worry, there’s a simple solution! Signing up for a dental plan that covers orthodontics can help you save a lot of money, and allow you to get the high-quality care that you deserve. 

Whether or not you’re experiencing any symptoms of malocclusion, your dentist can determine if you have it by examining your mouth. This is yet another reason why it’s so important to take your kids to the dentist, and why you should continue seeing the dentist regularly as an adult too. Once again, having the right dental insurance can help you get the care you need, and the lovely smile you desire, without breaking the bank.  






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